Reaching the Beach and Feeling the Feelings

I missed the memo about reaching the beach and feeling the feelings.

You know that thing about stuff happening in 3s?  I don’t know if that’s an actual thing, or if it just happens that once something happens twice, you’re more likely to notice when it happens a third time.  However it works, last week, I think the universe was trying to send me the same message on three different occasions, so I’m trying to take the hint.

Message No. 1 came when  the lovely and hilarious Glennon Doyle Melton over at Momastery posted a link to the latest viral video from the incomparable (and oddly sexy…) Louis C.K.

This video killed me…both with its humor and its truth.  I definitely catch myself using my Smartphone as a way to escape from unpleasant emotions…boredom, frustration, worry can be temporarily suppressed as I experience the illusion of interconnectedness that social media and the 24-hour news cycle provide.

But as Louis C.K. pointed out, we’re ultimately so much better off if we just let ourselves feel the feelings, even the painful ones.  If I constantly distract myself from my feelings, then yeah, I avoid the painful ones, but then I short-change the good ones, too.

Which brings me to The Fixx…as part of my husband’s birthday extravaganza, we recently went to see The Fixx perform in concert.  “Who are The Fixx?” you ask…well, they were part of the 80s New Wave, but they’ve continued to record and tour and just be exceedingly awesome in the decades since.  Most will remember a couple of their big hits (“One Thing Leads To Another” and “Saved by Zero” from their smash 1983 album Reach the Beach, among others), but their music has gotten more beautiful and more interesting since then.   My husband and I are definitely “Fixxtures”, as they say.

Cy Curnin
Fixx Front Man, Cy Curnin…still crazy and sexy after all these years.

Cy Curnin and crew put on a great show, and they played one of my very favorite songs of all time…”Treasure It”.  This was message No. 2.  Seriously….think about these lyrics…

When you’re feeling insecure, do you treasure it?
I treasure it
Feel the pull of nature’s course and treasure it
Oh, I treasure it

Let that sink in, people…treasure feeling insecure.  As uncomfortable as they are, moments of insecurity are when we feel ourselves having to open up to a new idea or experience.  Put another way, sometimes when we grow, it hurts.  But growth is usually a positive thing, so embracing insecurity, treasuring it, even, that could be good.

And message No. 3…this one came because I am particularly dense, and after getting home from the concert I was dinking around on my Smartphone (sweet irony!) and came across this image….


Aw, c’mon!  There it was, spelled out in oil paint and in the gentle words of Bob Ross (can’t you just hear his sweet, soothing voice…)  You need the darkness to appreciate the light.  Pretty simple, but hard to remember.   I apparently needed to get this memo three times, but alas, memo received.

Breastfeeding, Backpacks, and Life Hacks

I missed the memo about breastfeeding, backpacks, and life hacks.

When my first son was born, I decided to breastfeed him.   No big whoop.   I say ‘no big whoop’ now with the benefit of five years of hindsight, because at the time, it seemed like a very big whoop, indeed.  All things considered, my #1 son actually had a pretty easy go of it, and because I could breastfeed him, I did.  When I went back to work, I dutifully pumped…in my office, in airport bathrooms, in rental cars, wherever.  The longer we went without formula, the more convinced I was that there was something kind of magical about my son being exclusively breastfed.  My milk supply barely kept pace with the voracious milk demand, but I was never tempted to use formula because I didn’t want to break the spell.

Fast forward five years…#2 son debuts via unplanned c-section, so instead of the cozy baby-on-the-chest moment, he gets whisked off to the NICU while my guts get put back to together.  Then, the magnesium sulfate therapy I needed for treatment of pre-eclampsia after the birth left me totally incompetent  to care for my baby.  My muscles were like over-cooked pasta and I lacked the strength and coordination to even hold him that first night.  But some very good nurses held him for me.  And they gave him formula.  The spell was broken before it was even cast.   It made me sad, but there was a big part of me that was really, really relieved.

My relief came from a pretty selfish place.  I realized that with my first son, I had derived a lot of ego gratification from the fact that he had been exclusively breastfed.  I could do it all…have a baby, be a fancy lawyer, go on business trips, and still exclusively breastfeed.  I was the best mom ever.  Bullshit.  Breastfeeding was just something I could control when, as a new mom,  there were so many other things I couldn’t.  The combination of ego and magical thinking was powerful and not entirely dysfunctional.   But as a second-time mom, I was, I think, a little wiser, and a lot more weary.  When my new baby got formula, it forced me to recognize that I couldn’t and didn’t have to do it all.  There was some sweet surrender in that.

The great thing about breast feeding is that it isn’t an all or nothing proposition.  My sweet little baby gets all the breast milk I can make.  And he also gets formula.  He’s happy and healthy, and I’m not driving myself crazy.  Win-win.

And like the first time around, I am pumping…mostly in a tiny room designated for the purpose, but in Fire Station bathrooms when need be.  My constant companion, both last time and this, is my Medela Pump In Style Double Electric Breast Pump.


See how sleek and fancy it is?  No wonder I was completely deluded into thinking I was Angelina Jolie or something.  But here’s the thing…after about 10 months of torture, the sleek little backpack began to disintegrate.  The actual mechanics of the pump were in perfect working order, but the backpack was falling apart.  I had it held together with staples and tape.  I contacted Medela about replacing just the backpack, but no dice.  The pump itself is actually attached to the backpack with industrial strength Velcro and taking it out is a big no-no, apparently.

When I prepared to go back to work this time around, I wanted to avoid buying a brand new breast pump, since my old one still worked fine.  But the the taped-together backpack just would not do.  So I thought about my options, searched high and low, and this is what I did…



Yeah, I Caboodled that shit.  Remember Caboodles?  The pink tackle boxes we all coveted in the 80s have come a long way, and this particular make up bag had just the capacity and compartments to hold all my milk-making supplies.   Caboodle as breast pump carrying case, how’s that for a little life hack?

Memo received.